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Painted Lichen Moth (Hypoprepia fucosa)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Painted Lichen Moth

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The Painted Lichen Moth warns predators with its alarming colors while its larval form feeds on the slow-growing lichens across the continent.

Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Painted Lichen Moths are orange and black, a classic warning color combination for would-be predators. They somewhat resemble Lightening Bugs, which are also toxic to eat. This species looks a lot like its relative, the Scarlet-Winged Lichen Moth. Painted Lichen Moths have the unusual ability to 'hear'. They have hearing organs on their thorax and can make high-frequency sounds themselves. This may be useful in both communicating for mating purposes as well as warding off flying predators, like bats. Females also emit pheromones to attract males.

Caterpillars are not similarly colored. They are brownish-black with yellow speckling. They are also covered in spines. To further protect themselves, they flick their fecal material far from themselves in order to obscure their actual location. Caterpillars feed on lichens found on tree trunks, stones, and even buildings. Lichens are a symbiotic organism: part fungus, part algae or bacteria. The two organisms work together and enhance their ability to survive and thrive. The fungus offers structure and water collection abilities; the algae or bacteria photosynthesize sunlight to create food. Lichens are typically slow-growing, spreading over a surface at a rate of about 1 cm a year. This is a popular food source for the Painted Lichen caterpillar, but it has also been seen eating its smaller siblings and pupae. There are advantages to being the firstborn in almost every species.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae
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          Genus: Hypoprepia
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            Species: fucosa

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Hypoprepia fucosa
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 35mm (0.98" to 1.37")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange, black, red
Descriptors: line, stripe, vein, flying, lightening, cannibal

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 25mm (1.0in) and 35mm (1.4in)
Lo: 25mm
Md: 30mm
Hi: 35mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Painted Lichen Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Painted Lichen Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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